Thursday, 26 May 2011

Panaeolus foenisecii/The Lawn Mower's Mushroom

On the east side of Swansea, two bridges connect St Thomas and Port Tennant to the city centre. Between these bridges there's an area of grass where I've found a number of fungi including Melanoleuca, Hygrocybe, Clitocybe, Marasmius and Stropharia.
It's also home to Panaeolus foenisecii; commonly called 'The Lawn Mower's Mushroom' since it has a habit of appearing after lawns have been recently cut back and sure enough, after the council had mown the area  these arrived about four days later and after some very heavy showers over the preceding days.

One of the most useful distinguishing features of this mushroom is that it's hygrophanus, which means its cap  changes colour if it's wet or dry. When the cap is wet it is a dark brown sometimes with flushes of cinnamon and dries to a much light umber/buff colour. The darker patches below show the drying stage with colour change occurring.

The gills are brown and mottled and that mottling is a characteristic of the mushroom.

This mushroom contains a toxin called psilocybin which is a hallucinogenic drug to humans. In this species the toxin occurs in tiny, tiny amounts and does not even occur in every fruitbody but could be dangerous to toddlers.

Early Russula

Since late April I've been finding Russula/Brittlegills in an area in Whiterock. I've been going back regularly to see if anymore have appeared and that my first find was not the one off it could have been. Every week without fail I have found at least one and last week counted six. It's been very difficult to find one in good condition but I did and managed to get a spore print.

The mushroom is Russula puellaris. I used a Russula guide to help me, took a spore print, peeled the cap and ate some too. I don't enjoy the taste of Russula, which can be hot or acrid.. I confirmed it using the mycokey website.

It's quite a small mushroom with a purplish rose cap that turns yellow as the mushroom matures. The entire stem turns yellow and the cap eventually turns brown as a result of yellowing althougth if it rains, the colour at any stage can get even more varied. 

The taste of Russula puellaris is mild, and the spore print is yellow.

In this particular photo you can see the yellowing on the stem.

The photos below are an example of the variability of the cap colour in this species.

The yellow spore print..

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Singleton Park & Lake Pluck

Singleton Park
On the off chance that I might find some mushrooms at Singleton Park I thought I'd have a leisurely foray around it. I did find a couple of things, below is Parasola plicatilis/ Pleated Inkcap mushroom.
Unlike the parasols I found a few days ago, these are tiny, about a quarter the size. They are extremely fragile and by the time I got them home they were badly damaged and had already started to go limp. The second photo shows the mushroom at a young age.

There was also this ladybird with more spots than I would normally see. I've seen a lot of ladybirds this year, well more than I can remember seeing over the last few years.

Below is Ganoderma austale (=G. adspersum) /Southern Bracket.. Very common on the dead treetrunks here.

I found this small mushroom in the same place as the parasols. As to what it is I really can't say. I think it's probably an Inocybe but I really cannot be sure. It's one of those little brown toadstools that frustratingly defy identification..

Lake Pluck
On a walk to Lake Pluck I came across some burnt gorse with Daldinia fissa on it. I've seen this before on a previous walk but I hadn't spotted these before. They are related to Daldinia concentrica/Cramp Balls but only live on burnt gorse.

I was surprised to see these small mushrooms in the needle litter. It could  be a few things. At he moment I'm in the process of trying to identify it.

Two brackets that I found. On the left is Daedaleposis confragosa/ Blushing Bracket. It's pore side bruises red very easily hence the common name. As you can see, there is a hole where I pulled out the branch it had grown around. On the right is Polyporus leptocephalus/Blackfoot Polypore. At the base of the stalk there is a strong black mark.

Finally I came across this half eaten Russula. I'll try and get a spore print off it..

Friday, 13 May 2011

Agrocybe erebia/Dark Fieldcap

Last year I was in Milford haven for a few days and went to some places where I know mushrooms are regular. There was one particular mushroom that puzzled me at the time. It had a dark brown, almost black cap and prominant umbo. It was large and fleshy and had veil remnants. The stalk was clearly tapered and darkening towards the base. Its cap was shiny when wet but matt when dry. I thought, given its strong features that it would be easy to identify. It wasn't and I didn't know what it was, until today.

Through sheer luck whilst searching for something else I came across it in a book, then searched online to help my verify it.
It turned out to be Agrocybe erebia/Dark Fieldcap.

The cap is dark and wavy, with a prominant umbo. The stem is thick, fibrous and tapers at the base where the colour gets darker towars the end. It's gills are an umber-brown colour.

It also has a ring that sometimes can be found. When young the veil resembles an opaque white membrane which collapses with the most gentle of touches. Click on the photo below to view the veil better.

below is a phot of  more mature examples. As can be seen the umbo is clearly prominant but the colour of the cap is much more brown.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

After the Fires: Rain

The last few days it's been raining hard and a welcome relief it is too after all the fires Kilvey Hill has had. On the hill the damage has been extensive, totally altering the landscape in places. One or two of my favorite places for finding fungi have totally changed out of all recognition. One area that was abundant in Amanita muscaria/Fly Agaric, photo below, was reduced to nothing more than ash.

Extensive damage by fire on Kilvey

Even though the Hill was severely burnt in places it was still teeming with activity with lots of insects about. I know very little about insects but this dragonfly was beautiful. If anyone knows what it is I'd be grateful to know. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

I didn't expect to find any mushrooms and I didn't apart from the usual brackets but I did come across this, which is a slime mould; Fuglio septica var. flava. This slime mould is in what's called the 'plasmodium' stage, a bright yellow spongy mass...Remarkably at this stage in it's development, it's capable of moving!

A couple of butterflies who stayed open long enough to be photographed. Again, if anyone can tell me the species I would be happy to know.

10th May After Rain.
After all the fires the weather changed from constant sun. All day yesterday the heavens opened and Swansea was covered in a thunderstorm so I thought I would look around for some mushrooms provoked into fruiting by the rain and I was not disappointed.

At the Civil justice Court Coprinus was back with a vengeance. I'm not convinced it's not Parasola plicatilis (=Coprinus plicatilis)/Pleated Inkcap because the specimens are far too large with a cap diameter of four to five centimetres wide and stalks in excess of seven centimetres. Parasola plicatilis is smaller in every way. I think it must be Coprinus impatiens.

At a place where Foxhole meets Whiterock, there's a strip of grassland that's mostly untouched by human contact, save the odd dog walker and the council lawnmowers and Russula amongst many fungi are abundant. I found one specimen and currently I'm waiting for the cap to release its spores. Hopefully I'll have a better idea of which Russula it is.